Whatever industry you’re in, you’re behind if you don’t have a website in 2022. But even having a website today isn’t enough to reach and re-engage customers. You must consider how users will navigate your site on mobile, if your landing pages and blog are SEO-friendly and how customers can make purchases or schedule appointments. These considerations can be daunting for most business owners, so working with a WordPress developer may be your best option.
Working with a WordPress developer on a custom-built site ensures you’ll have a skilled hand making your site a success. But first, you must set your developer on that path to success. So let’s look at the steps to creating a profitable, valuable experience for your WordPress developer and your business.
Tips for Creating a Custom Site With a WordPress Developer
Here are some interesting tips:
Know your needs before you attempt to hire
A common mistake when creating a custom-built WordPress site is believing the developer you hire can guide you through every process step. While it’s reasonable that you won’t know every detail of the site you want to create, you can’t expect a developer to be inside your head.
Developers need detail of what you want to understand how to best utilize the resources they have available to get as close to your vision for your website as possible. Without this detail they’ll be flying blind, especially if they don’t have a baseline understanding of your industry and what potential customers need from your website.
You also can’t expect your developer to have a deep understanding of your industry, especially if you have a business in a unique niche. While you can look for one with experience working with other companies in your industry, they will still need guidance from you about the specifics of your business and how you envision the website.
Do your research before attempting to hire outside of the company. Look at your competitors’ sites, ask customers for feedback on your current website if you have one, and expect to put together a plan for your future site before talking to a developer. You’ll want to know how many pages it will be, whether you’ll have frequently updated pages like blogs, and how customers will interact with each page.
Ask your developer for details about their process
When working with a WordPress developer, take the time to learn about the platform. Once the developer completes the website, someone on your team will have to maintain it. Therefore, understanding the ins and outs of how your site is built and operates is crucial. While maintaining a WordPress site is not as complex as building one, you may find it challenging to stay on top of things if you have little understanding of how your developer made your website.
It’s a good idea to use a wireframing tool like Figma to sketch out your visualization of the website before you turn things over to a developer. With this wireframe in hand it’s easier to speak a common language about the work that needs to be done.
Start with talking to your developer about what tools they used to create each page. Some developers will use page builder plugins to assist them in making a custom theme for your website, while others build them from scratch. Your theme will affect how you can make changes in the future, so ask questions about how the developer coded the theme from scratch or if they used a standard theme and made coding changes to that to address your unique needs.
Plan for checkpoints
Another common mistake when working with a developer on a custom-built WordPress site is believing you’ll be hands-off. It can be a relief to hire out when building your website. While working with a developer can make creating your website less stressful, you should maintain communication with whomever you hire.
The average time it takes to build a WordPress website is 200 hours. Although using WordPress may reduce the time it takes to build a custom site, which can often require more than 240 hours, you should still expect to be working with a developer for at least five weeks.
The last thing you want is for those five weeks to end and for you to be unsatisfied with the finished product. Instead, consider having a weekly call with your developer to check in on their progress and view what they’ve created so far. You could also utilize a project management system to know what the developer completed and what’s still in the works.
Some good project management tools to consider that apply well to tracking the progress of a website include Asana, Wrike, Trello or Smartsheet. Each has different types of views and functions that allow you to keep resourcing, cost and timelines in mind as everyone works through the project together.
Having that insight into your future website can help you improve the process and ensure your developer is on track to build the website you want.
Ensure your developer understands your brand image and voice
A WordPress developer isn’t the same as a brand designer or a website copywriter. A developer fills an essential role with unique and invaluable knowledge. But expecting your developer to be a master graphic designer and SEO-driven copywriter can lead to disappointment. While some developers offer these services, finding a developer focused solely on website construction is more common.
Turning over a brand deck to your developer to view within a tool like Canva – or maybe in a PDF – is a great way to deliver a reference point that helps them visualize the look and feel that you’re going for. If you don’t have a cohesive brand image at the time you’re looking for a developer, it may be a “crawl before you walk” scenario.
Many developers would prefer you work with a copywriter and a brand designer before you decide to work with them. By working in this order, you can provide the developer with crucial aspects of your brand, helping them set up a website tailored to your image and voice.
Brand colors may not be on the top of your priority list, but for a developer, those colors are vital to ensuring the site’s feel matches your company’s style.
If you don’t have a brand designer or copywriter, consider partnering with an agency to develop your brand image. Many agencies offer website development alongside copywriting and brand design work. If you’d rather work on a more individual level, talk to the developer you want to work with about any recommendations for these other services.
Capitalize your software development costs
Creating a custom-built WordPress site can be costly. The average WordPress developer in the United States charges $70 per hour, but their rates can be anywhere between $30 to $175 per hour. Therefore, you should expect to spend thousands on a high-quality website, which can be overwhelming, especially if this website is your business’s first.
You may want to consider capitalizing your software development costs, which will result in those costs being amortized rather than expensed. By capitalizing, you’ll have lower reported expenses and higher net income. Remember that you’ll need accurate time tracking from your developer so you can qualify to capitalize their fees.
When you decide to create a custom WordPress site, you’re investing in your company’s growth. To ensure a successful build, have the right tools ready to keep the process smooth and profitable.
From a time tracker for your software cost capitalization to a project management system that keeps you up to date, these tools and tips will help you and your developer form a process that is valuable to you both.